Page last updated at 09:15 GMT, Monday, 24 November 2008

Landfill 'should be last resort'

The price of scrap metal has plummeted since the summer

Councils in England should not increase the use of landfill despite a collapse in the market for recyclable waste, the Local Government Association has said.

Because the value of plastic, metal and paper has fallen, commercial recycling firms are less willing to take it.

The Association wants councils to make more use of incinerators and composting until the market recovers.

It has called on the government to provide temporary storage sites for any leftover waste.

The price of scrap metal has fallen by three quarters from its summer peak , and scrap iron prices have dropped by as much as 90%.

Military sites

The chairman of the LGA's environment board, Paul Bettison, told BBC Radio 5Live that during a recent three-week period, some companies refused to accept scrap iron.

The Ministry of Defence, during the last postal strike, actually stored the country's mail
Paul Bettison, LGA

However he said he believed the fall in prices was part of the general economic downturn, and would be "transient".

"Most manufacturers would actually rather use recycled products," he said. "The products are easier than raw materials to switch off when you need to reduce production

"For example, if you are making steel, you will have contracts with mines to supply the ore and those contracts will take a while to back off, whereas you can close the gates to scrap almost overnight."

Mr Bettison said he wanted the Ministry of Defence to offer up disused military sites for stockpiling recyclable waste.

He said: "We don't need anywhere very special to store [scrap iron].

"You can store scrap iron in the open air. You just need somewhere that's away from public view because it's not a very pretty thing to pile up.

"Paper, of course, needs storage. It's got to be kept dry.

"The Ministry of Defence, during the last postal strike, actually stored the country's mail and we'd like them now to assist us by storing some of our paper."

Resorting to landfill would, the LGA said, mean higher costs for local authorities in landfill tax and correspondingly, more pressure on council tax bills.

The LGA is also warning councils that they may have to deal with more abandoned cars because of a fall in the price of scrap metal.

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